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24.02.2008 21:51

Rijkaard: “We’re growing as a team”

Vanessa Forns

After thrashing Levante 5-1 in the Camp Nou, Frank Rijkaard said he was very happy with the performance of his players and he believes that the key factor in Barça’s recent form is that “we’re growing as a team”.

This Sunday Barça have maintained their excellent form from the match against Glasgow Celtic to trounce Levante 5-1. Rijkaard thinks that it is the team’s all-round strength that is helping it to get better with every game. “We’re growing as a team, as a squad,” he remarked.

Upping the work rate

As an example the Barça coach cited that fact that with the score line reading 1-0, “I thought that the team was looking a bit slow.” But then “I saw how both the defence and the midfield upped their work rate and that sort of thing spreads throughout the side.” For Rijkaard, one of the important things is that “the whole side gets into the game, from the keeper right up to the strikers.”

A team on a roll

Barça’s Dutch coach said that his team is “on a roll” and he’s not surprised that people are getting all excited again. As for the number of goals scored in recent matches, he pointed out that “we’ve been creating lots of chances and all we had to do was to work hard and make sure we started to convert them.”


After congratulating the side in general, the coach then specifically picked out the goalscorers in this evening’s game. Commenting on Xavi, who notched his fifth goal in the League, he said “he’s always been an extraordinary player. Recently he’s been on the top of his game and in the right place to make a big difference. He’s got everything. He’s always someone you can rely on.” As for Messi, Rijkaard noted that “he’s had a fantastic match, both in terms of his goal which came at just the right time and his passing and assists.” Turning to Eto'o, the Barça coach argued “he gives us goals, depth and the will to win.”

Levante’s performance

Finally, and in response to questions about how Levante played, Frank Rijkaard said that “they started pretty well, very organised, and when they equalised they thought they were in with a shout. But after Messi put us in front again, I think their heads began to drop.”
Rijkaard: “We’re growing as a team”
Laporta: “We’ve played as a team”
Joan Laporta was very pleased with Barça’s performance against Levante (5-1) and said that “we’ve played as team to do the job, which is to pick up all three points in every game.” This Sunday’s match was the first for Touré Yaya and Samuel Eto'o in the Camp Nou after the African Cup of Nations. The FC Barcelona chairman said he thought that both players were very motivated. “I thought Touré was fantastic, and Eto'o of course scored a hat-trick.” However, Laporta emphasised that his praise was for “the whole team in general”.

As for Messi, Laporta said that he had had an “extraordinary, spectacular” game. The club chairman added that it was in games like this one against Levante that “you see we have lots of resources and the coach knows how to use them.” Finally, Joan Laporta called on Barça fans to turn out and back the side in Wednesday’s Spanish Cup semi-final first leg against Valencia: “I hope the crowd will get behind the team so that we can get a good result and go to Valencia for the second-leg with the tie virtually wrapped up.”

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